Saudi Arabia, famous for its oil, arid desert, and Arabian coffee, has recently decided to concentrate its vast economy towards a digital transformation, and rightly so.
It has a GDP of $680 billion, and 70% of the population is below the age of 30 years. Due to this, it has shown heightened interest in and grown magnanimously in Artificial Intelligence. Many claim this is an an essential technology that integrates machine and human intelligence.
Simultaneously, in September, the King issued a royal decree on the topic. The decree mandated the Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence formation along with the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence.
It catapulted their zeal towards transforming the country into the Silicon Valley of the Middle East. Hence, this also has ample support from the Crown Prince, which is fueling this rapid progress.
Vision 2030 includes the accelerated promotion of start-ups and Artificial Intelligence as one of its main agendas.
The government is playing its part by providing infrastructure and monetary support. It has also made the country more accessible to foreign business associates. By offering visas efficiently and funding the resources for developing the youths, it is inviting growth.
|Robot Sophia gets Saudi citizenship|
To boost the Artificial Intelligence drive in Saudi Arabia, citizenship has been granted to the humanoid robot – Sophia. With this, history has been made. This will also further help to create awareness about AI. [Source]
The fact that the capital funding from start-ups rose from $7 million in 2015 to a monumental $152 million in 2020 proves that Saudi Arabia is on the right track in the race to become the most prominent tech hub globally.
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic affected the whole world, it did not stop any investments. Investments and growth into Financial Technology, e-commerce, and start-ups related to Artificial Intelligence have continued the same.
One thrust area that the country has mainly concentrated on is implementing 5G telecommunication technology. 20 cities have already had 5G operations deployed by Zain Networks to test the market.
The development of this technology can improve healthcare and business potential and help establish smart cities. The investment of Saudi Arabia in 5G technology is currently the highest in the world.
Another potential sector with a lot of opportunities is the gaming industry. It is evaluated to be around $5 billion. Close to 14 percent of all the gamers in the world hail from Saudi Arabia.
However, the games that they specialize in have international developers. Therefore, there has been a recent promotion in developing local games with substantial funds pouring in that direction.
The impetus to Tech SMEs
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have also been given the necessary impetus. The kingdom has planned to raise the GDP coming from it from 20% to 35% by 2030 under the Vision 2030.
They have also embarked on public investments in tech companies such as Uber and established co-working hubs. This is evidence of a deliberate attempt to digitalize the economy.
The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) made its brand identity known through an event in Riyadh. The theme of it, “Data is Oil of the 21st Century,” was eye-opening and revolutionary.
It revealed the plan to invest $500 billion in a smart city called Neom. It plans on integrating Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, and Blockchain Technology comprehensively.
There is no denying that Saudi Arabia has the potential to emerge as the next biggest tech hub in the world. Its enormous economic support, booming infrastructure, and adequate youth support can help develop something unparalleled and unique.